Saturday, October 6, 2012

Fall Cooking

Ahhhh, a long weekend!  Christopher Columbus may have been a total jerk who actually did not even discover America, but this weekend, I am very grateful for him.

Last night I made a repeat recipe: skinny baked macaroni and cheese with broccoli.  I made this over the summer and it was a big hit, so I made it again last night.  I love this meal.  To be honest, I don't follow the instructions exactly and so it is not as "skinny" as it should be.  I don't use skim milk (1% is close enough right?) or light butter.  But I tell myself that all the low fat cheese and chicken broth lighten it up enough.  It does not taste low fat, that much I will tell you! We all loved it - even my mom, who hates mac and cheese.  Today we ate the leftovers and it got more compliments.  I recommend this recipe to everyone!

Then today, Tuck and Linda came to visit.  I knew I needed to make a low carb meal for Tucky, so I made the Thai turkey bundles that I made a couple weeks ago.  This time, I made a double recipe of the sauce so that I could give all 8 people eating here their own little bowls of dipping sauc.  This ended up being unnecessary because certain rude people made their own sauce out of soy sauce and wasabi (can you guess who?), but I still say that the sauce really makes this meal!  I also put lettuce out on the table along with the cabbage this time because a few people were saying that they hate cabbage (not so shockingly, the same people who made wasabi soy sauce).  I didn't try the lettuce, but lots of people were saying that they liked it that way too, so that's an option for you.  I still really like this meal because it is pretty easy to throw together, and sooo delicious!

I also made lots of desserts for our little party.  Strangely enough, they were all fall-related, even though I hate the fall.  I will confess to perhaps hating fall but liking fall foods!  I made two pumpkin dishes: a pumpkin roll and a pumpkin bake.  The roll was one I saw on the Skinny Taste blog - that's right, folks, a low fat pumpkin roll with cream cheese frosting!  Its real name is the pumpkin roll lightened up.  There was no butter or oil in the cake; it is a sponge cake with a lot of eggs (3!) and tons of spices. After I baked it, I had to roll it up in a tea towel to help it roll together later.  Then I made the filling, which was lightened up by using low fat cream cheese and Greek yogurt!  Genius!  You never know with a low fat dessert recipe... but I am starting to realize that you do know when the low fat recipe is from Skinny Taste!  This was delicious.  No one even knew that it was less than 200 calories per serving, and they were shocked when I said so.  I think I could eat the filling all by itself because it was so creamy and delicious, and the cake itself was pumpkin and spice and fall perfection!

Then, because I wanted Tuck to be able to have a pumpkin dessert too, I looked up low carb desserts and found a recipe for a pumpkin bake. I certainly had my doubts about this weird congomeration of things: cream cheese, pumpkin, 5 eggs (five!!!!) and lots of spices.  No sugar, either: instead I had to rip open 24 packets of Splenda.  Like I said, I was pretty concerned about this, but I was ecstatic to hear that Tuck loved it!  He ate multiple helpings and kept telling me how good it was.  He said it tasted exactly like pumpkin pie.  I tasted it myself and have to agree, although I detect that weird Splenda aftertaste.  I'd still prefer to use sugar if I was going to make this for a non-weird-diet person, but for Tuck, it was a perfect pumpkin dessert!  He even took the rest home.  Definitely a recipe to try out if you have someone who is on a low carb or gluten free diet.

One quick recipe sidenote: both pumpkin recipes called for pumpkin pie spice.  Last night at Pricechopper, I thought I grabbed a container of it, but when I got home, I somehow ended up with dill weed.  No idea how that happened!  So I made my own to keep in a little jar for future use!  It was quick and easy and I felt better about making my own spice mix than buying it anyway. Now, to find a recipe that calls for dill weed....

Lastly, I have been wanting to make autumn brittle for about half a year now.  I guess it makes sense to wait till autumn, and today was the day I finally had all the ingredients to make it.  It is basically peanut brittle, but instead of peanuts, it uses cashews, almonds, pepitas, and dried cranberries. I got pretty nervous while boiling the sugar, water and honey.  You are supposed to boil it till it reaches 310 degrees, which is way hotter than anything I have ever made before.  It kept smelling like it was maybe burning, and turned very dark.  I had a bad feeling I was going to be ruining lots of cups of nuts and seeds and Craisins, but luckily it wasn't burned at all.  I did burn my arm on my candy thermometer, and then cut my hands trying to break the brittle into pieces, but it is really good.  Even my mom told me that she "really loved" it.  Might be a good thing to have on the dessert table at Thanksgiving. 

And now that I am exhausted from all this cooking, baking, and blogging, it is time for bed.  It's nearly Sunday... and I have Monday off!  Wahooo!

pumpkin roll lightened up
low carb pumpkin bake
pumpkin pie spice
autumn brittle

Skinny Baked Broccoli Mac and Cheese
from Skinny Taste

12 oz high fiber elbows 
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp light butter
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup minced onion
2 cups skim milk
1 cup fat free chicken broth
2 cups shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar
salt and fresh pepper to taste
12 oz fresh broccoli florets
1/8 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
cooking spray

1) Cook pasta and broccoli together in a large pot of salted water.  Cook 2 minutes less than the package says for al dente (you will be baking it after all!).  Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 375°.
2)  In a large, heavy skillet, melt butters. Add onion and cook over low heat about 2 minutes. 

3) Add flour and cook another minute, or until the flour is golden and well combined. Add milk and chicken broth and whisk, raising heat to medium-high until it comes to a boil; cook about 5 minutes or until the sauce becomes smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper.

4)  Once the sauce is thick, remove from heat, add cheese and mix well until cheese is melted. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Add cooked macaroni and broccoli and mix well. Pour into prepared baking dish. Top with grated cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then broil for a few minutes to get the breadcrumbs golden.

Thai turkey bundlesfrom Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchen

1 beaten egg
1/2 cup coarsely chopped water chestnuts
1/3 cup fine bread crumbs
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash ground red pepper
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
12 savoy cabbage leaves
1 recipe Thai dipping sauce (see below)

1) In a large mixing bowl, combine egg, water chestnuts, bread crumbs, green onion, soy sauce, lemon juice, ginger, sugar, salt, and ground red pepper. Add turkey; mix well.

2) Shape into twelve 4 x 1/2 x 3/4-inch loaves (or smaller if you'd like!). Grill over medium-hot coals or boil 3inches from heat for 12-14 minutes or till juices run clear, turning once.

3) Serve each loaf wrapped in a cabbage leaf (I recommend cutting out the thick white spine part and making each large leaf into two small ones). Serve with Thai dipping sauce.

Thai dipping sauce

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, 3 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 tablespoon snipped cilantro, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil.

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